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Venezuela: Gaining Admission to Public Universities

Last year, President Hugo Chávez anounced the elimination of admission tests to get into universities in Venezuela. They will be substituted by a National System of Admission. This new system must, according to the experts, create a social value, be practical, and be feasible with the country's resources. It must also be part of the public policies regarding Higher Education

Every year around 400,000 students seek to be admitted in Venezuelan public universities. Unfortunately, it is not possible to satisfy every demand, which leads to the discussion of how to assign students to a specific program based on certain criteria…but which criteria?

The Central University of Venezuela has witnessed demonstrations on the issue, especially during the election of the heads of the Academy. Some say that these changes are another of the President's demagogic strategies to (re)gain popularity by satisfying mediocrity and immediacy. Others feel that this new system represents a more democratic and more equal way to have access to a post-secondary education. The new policy has yet to be placed in effect, but Venezuelan bloggers have their own thoughts on the current and new systems.

Photo by Kit Kath and used under a Creative Commons license.

To Josefina of El Muro Te Lamenta [es], the elimination of the admission test doesn’t solve the issue:

El problema no es entrar, sino hacerlo en condiciones para salir exitosamente. Sin condiciones básicas de entrada, no se pueden formar profesionales competentes comprometidos con su país. Una vez recibidos, la Universidad no puede defraudar, ni a ellos ni al país.

The problem is not how to get in, but doing so in certain conditions that would permit one to successful finish. Without basic conditions for admission, it is impossible to educate competent professionals committed to their country. Onde they are accpeted, they cannot defraud them or the country.

Joacoramon of Venezuela Libre [es] adds the goal should be to provide equal education for all:

Eliminar las pruebas internas para ingresar al sistema de educación superior no resuelve el problema (…) El Gobierno lo sabe, pero prefiere colocar el paño caliente, antes de resolver el problema de fondo. Este es el problema de los gobiernos con vocación populista (…) abanderados de una igualdad que no existe. Iguales, como gotas de agua, deberíamos ser desde el principio de nuestra educación, calidad es lo que debe privar en la escuela básica y en el diversificado. (…) Y me pregunto: ¿quién, después de ver toda la discriminación impulsada por este Gobierno puede dar garantía que todos los bachilleres serán considerados a los ojos del Ejecutivo, iguales, como gotas de agua?

Eliminating admission tests does not solve the problem. The government knows that, but prefers to put a band-aid instead of solving the real problem. This is the problem with populist governments (…) defenders of an equality that doesn’t exist. Our education is the one that should be exactly alike, just like two drops of water, but from the beginning. A high quality education should be start from elementary school and go all the way through high school. (…) and I wonder, who, after seeing all the discrimination supported by this government can honestly believe that all high school graduates will be seen as equals, like two drops of water, to the eyes of the government?

In a Country of the Blind [es], Andrés shows another fact about the differences between private and public education in Venezuela:

¿Por qué entonces se produce el fenómeno de la exclusión de los estudiantes de las escuelas públicas? El mayor grado de admisiones a aspirantes provenientes de los colegios privados es consecuencia de la baja calidad de la educación pública del país.

Es también preciso comentar que existen varios factores que agravan la situación de las admisiones en las universidades y están son el factor socio-cultural. Durante el primer gobierno de Rafael Caldera decidieron cerrar las escuelas técnicas, con esto vino la idea de que todos debíamos ser universitarios, cualquier cosa por debajo era indecoroso, y con ello vino un segundo problema de mentalidad.

Luego esta un factor de injusticia que son los articulados de las normas de las universidades publicas que otorgan cupos a hijos de trabajadores, profesores, políticos, deportistas y artistas destacados. Por que hablo de injusticia sobre este caso pues hoy por hoy el 40% de la población estudiantil universitaria de la universidades publicas ingresan por medio de los conocidos artículos, que además son blanco de la corrupción interna de la universidad, del CNU, y de la OPSU.

Why does this produce a phenomenon of exclusion of public school students? The high number in admission of graduates from private schools is a consequence of the low quality in public schools.

It is also correct to comment that there are certain factors that make the situation even worse: the socio-cultural factors. During the first Rafael Caldera’s administration, they decided to shut down technical schools and after this, came the idea that we all should be university students. Anything below that was shameful. With that, came another problem; a mentality problem.

Then, there is another unfair factor: some articles in laws of public universities laws grant admission to the children of workers, professors, politicians, athletes and artists. Why do I say it’s unfair? Well, it seems that 40% of the students in public universities have been granted admission thanks to these laws, something that has been the target of corruption inside the university and the organizations that arrange general admission tests.

Writer and professor Barrera Linares in his Duda Melodica [es] gives an opinion on whether the tests also measure other important skills.

De las varias pruebas que llegué a evaluar alguna vez, muy pocas estaban relacionadas, por ejemplo, con procesos relativos a otros fenómenos, si se quiere más cualitativos, pero también humanos, como la reflexión, la opinión, la argumentación, el ambiente, la vida comunitaria, la actitud crítica, las comunicaciones, entre otros. A mi juicio también muy importantes si los relacionamos con algunas carreras universitarias existentes o futuras.

From all the tests I ever evaluated, few of them were related, for example, to other areas, more qualitative if you will, but also human, like insight, opinion, debate, environment, life in community, critical thinking, and communications among others. In my opinion, these are also important if we relate them with some careers that currently exists or will exist.

1 comment

  • Sinisa Boljanovic

    Laura, this post, as all which are you created, has very interesting topic.
    There was a similar situation in Serbia several years ago when Vojislav Seselj, leader extreme nationalistic Serbian radical party (SRS), during the 90’s very close fellow Slobodan Milosevic and now Hague’s prisoner, propagated idea (currently I can not remember whether it was an official proposal to Serbia’s Parliament) about the elimination of admission test to get into state’s Universities.
    According to majority of public opinion this idea had a daily political character and It was a cheap demagogic attempt changing of SRS’s raiting was quite swung after takeing over power by democratic forces on October 5 2000.
    (About this date you can see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slobodan_Milo%C5%A1evi%C4%87)
    Of course, there is still admission test at Universities for all who want to be students in Serbia.
    I think that admission test is the first level of sellection of knowledge, no an examination of social justice or democracy or, what it was case in Serbia, classical demagogy.

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